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admin 16.04.2014

Also recommended is Kristen Doyle Highland’s piece on the subject in the Lost New York volume that Bryan and I edited last year. The Coney Island blog Amusing the Zillion alerts readers to a November 6 rally to save Ruby’s and the other establishments facing eviction. My own talk (it wasn’t a musical performance) was based on the idea that the acoustic properties of the clubs, theaters and concert halls where our music might get performed determines to a large extent the kind of music we write.
Author David Freeland visited our Faculty Resource Seminar today and offered us a glimpse of the city as it appears to him: as a palimpsest with layers of meaning waiting to be rediscovered if one knows where to look and what to look for. Bryan and I began our third seminar for NYU’s Faculty Resource Network, which sponsors a variety of week-long programs each summer for faculty from affiliated colleges around the country.
In the end, we decided to cut back on the reading we planned for the course, making it less literary and more interdisciplinary. Our group includes literary scholars, librarians, architects, historians, and a scholar of immigration and public health. The afternoon presented a case study in the loss and recovery of a figure from New York’s downtown scene, the avant-garde cellist and pop musician Arthur Russell. Tomorrow we’ll be talking with Freeland and joining him in the afternoon for a walking tour of Harlem. In my last post, I mentioned that older son loves to read series of books — the longer the better.
The books are very formulaic, as Morgan sends them on various missions that last about 10 chapters.
Blizzard of a Blue Moon is one of these Merlin missions, and my son is enjoying hearing about places he knows: like Central Park and the IRT subway, which costs a nickel in 1938. By the way, Jack and Annie’s mission in 1938 New York involves rescuing a unicorn that has been enchanted.
To all who were planning to attend tomorrow night, I’ve just received word that Dixon Place has decided to cancel this and all other events tomorrow because of the snowstorm that (if predictions are accurate) will be blanketing the entire New York region with lots of fluffy white stuff.  Fortunately, we will be rescheduling, so as soon as we determine a new date I will let you know!
The panel takes place at the Dixon Place Theater (161 Chyristie Street, between Delancey and Rivington).
So far the plan has received all cheers, but a historic opportunity requires a serious conversation. Late last month, the New York City Council told Madison Square Garden it has 10 years to find a new location. Some brief background for the unfamiliar: the splendid original Penn Station was demolished in 1963 and replaced with the current stadium-station complex.
There's unanimous agreement that the current Penn Station, a drab underground tunnel trapped below the Garden, is a monstrosity unbecoming of a great city.


The 10-year clock for moving the Garden and planning a new Penn creates a historic opportunity for whoever becomes the next mayor of New York. But no one seems to be asking where all the people who currently move through the Garden will go. To conclude: every New Yorker, if not every frequent Northeast Corridor traveler, wants a better Penn Station. We semi unconsciously create music that will be appropriate to the places in which it will most likely be heard. During our morning session, we used NYU’s Founders Hall and the old Penn Station to open a discussion of the dynamics of creation and destruction, nostalgia and counter-nostalgia, and the politics of preservation. Before he read the Percy Jackson series, he read all of Mary Pope Osborne’s Magic Tree House books. The description of the tree house embarking on its journey is always the same, and my son can now recite it by heart.
Reading the book made me remember those old cross-shaped wooden turnstiles that were still installed in a few subway stations when I was growing up.
The news was a clear sign that the city intends to advance ideas for building a new Penn Station, which exists on the same site. If billions are spent merely giving Penn a facelift, it's reasonable to wonder how much money and motivation will be left for the crucial work of actually improving regional mobility. A broad plan for a renovated Penn Station district, released this summer by the Municipal Arts Society, estimated that 10.4 million square feet of new office space in the area would "be readily absorbed" within 30 years.
The Garden does smother Penn Station right now, but that situation also means there's a direct, underground connection between the two venues. Put that way it sounds obvious … but most people are surprised that creativity might be steered and molded by such mundane forces. Readings and discussions will address the relationships between the literary imagination and the archives, between migrations and displacements, between loss and remembrance, and between preservation and development in the long and storied history of one of the world’s greatest cities. Their first four adventures take them to the time of the dinosaurs, to the middle ages, and to ancient Egypt.
In the end, the most iconic arena in the Northeast went up against the most congested travel hub in North America, and lost.
But opponents of that plan convinced the council to reconsider — most notably, Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman, who called the present Penn Station a "calamity," and the Municipal Arts Society, which solicited lovely renderings of a new one. Indeed, so far the news of a potential new Penn Station has been received with loud cheers and little criticism. Every day, several hundred thousand people move through Penn Station to ride Amtrak, New Jersey Transit, Long Island Railroad, and six New York City subway lines.


The Garden has moved several times in its history, and if it has to move once more, it will certainly thrive in its new home, too. With 320 events a year at the Garden, which holds about 20,000 per event, that's 6 million more people who would flood already crowded midtown streets if the arena moved. They learn that the tree house belongs to Morgan le Fay, who is portrayed as the magical librarian of King Arthur’s Camelot. But in book 29 Christmas in Camelot, Osborne varies her formula: it is Merlin who sends Jack and Annie on their missions, four of them to mythical places like Camelot, and four to real-life places like Paris at the time of the Exposition Universelle (for which the Eiffel Tower was built). Lundy’s, way out in Sheepshead Bay, has closed and reopened more than once, and now appears to be closed again.
The construction of Moynihan Station across the street from Penn will create a new home for Amtrak travelers, but that project has financial obstacles of its own, and Amtrak accounts for a rather small percentage of Penn traffic.
Such expectations may need to be tempered, especially since nearby areas of Hudson Yards and Midtown East will also be creating vast amounts of office space during the same time period. But for the billions it will cost to remodel Penn Station and move Madison Square Garden, the city could pay for a number of key transportation projects with greater potential to enhance mobility. Kimmelman and others have suggested giving the Garden a new waterfront space just south of the Javits Center, a few avenues west of its current location atop Penn Station. What additional transport projects will be required to accommodate this new foot traffic — over and above the costs of a new Penn Station itself? What's less clear is how much of that increase was tied to improved accessibility, which requires transportation improvements in addition to a new physical station, and brings us back to question number one. These include a long-awaited tunnel across the Hudson, future phases of the longer-awaited Second Avenue Subway, or the "X line" subway route through the outer boroughs (where more and more commuters are heading anyway). That would give the Garden an attractive space near Hudson Yards, the High Line, and the emerging 7-train extension. Consequently, he takes most of his meals at Sloppy Louie Morino’s, a busy-bee on South Street frequented almost entirely by wholesale fishmongers from Fulton Market, which is across the street.
Flood is ready for lunch, he goes to the stall of one of the big wholesalers, a friend of his, and browses among the bins for half an hour or so. Finally he picks out a fish, or an eel, or a crab, or the wing of a skate, or whatever looks best that day, buys it, carries it unwrapped to Louie’s, and tells the chef precisely how he wants it cooked.



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